October skywatching: Jupiter and Saturn all night, meteors from Orion and more

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 01-10-2022 11:34 IST | Created: 01-10-2022 11:34 IST
October skywatching: Jupiter and Saturn all night, meteors from Orion and more
Representative Image. Credit: Flickr

NASA has shared skywatching tips for the month of October, with key highlights including evenings with giant planets Jupiter and Saturn, Orionid meteor shower and Mars changing its course.

This month, you will see Jupiter and Saturn throughout the night. Early in the evening, the two gas giants will be visible in the southeast, moving slowly westward with the stars over the course of the night, forming a triangle with the bright star Fomalhaut.

At the end of this month, Mars appears to change its direction of motion in the sky - an illusion caused by the motions of our planet in its orbit passing by the Red Planet in its orbit. It happens about every two years and it's called the retrograde motion of Mars, according to NASA.

Over the next three months, from November to late January 2023, the Red Planet moves toward the west each night. Then near the end of January, it reverses direction again, and continues its eastward journey. See its position changing with respect to Betelgeuse, Aldebaran and the Pleiades over the weeks.

The Orionid meteor shower, one of the most beautiful showers of the year, peak during mid-October each year. It's a moderate shower, usually producing 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak, under clear and dark skies. This year, it peaks on the night of Oct. 20. According to NASA, the Moon will be about 20% full on the peak nights and will interfere a bit when it rises a couple of hours before dawn, but shouldn't totally spoil the viewing.

The meteors are fragments of dust left behind by Comet Halley in a trail that extends along its orbit. Since they tend to be bright and fast-moving, no special equipment is needed to observe them - just look up and enjoy the show.

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